Philip L. Rinaldi, of Bridgewater Township, an NJIT alumnus, has been elected to succeed Emil C. Herkert as chairman of the NJIT Board of Overseers. Herkert, of Whippany, who became an overseer in 1980, will remain on the Board as chairman emeritus. Serving as executive vice chairman with Rinaldi will be Michael A. Wall, of Little Falls, named to the Board in 2008.
The Board of Overseers is composed of prominent volunteer alumni and friends of the university, as well as key administrators, including NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch. Traditionally, the Board has had three primary functions. It is the governing body for the Foundation at NJIT — the university’s fundraising arm — and has a joint fiduciary responsibility with the Board of Trustees for stewarding and developing NJIT’s endowment. The Board is also an important advisory resource for the university's senior administration, particularly with regard to NJIT and the business community. Additionally, the Board has initiated activities and events that increase NJIT’s visibility and prestige, and which broaden productive connections to individuals and institutions capable of helping to enhance the stature of the university.
An NJIT Overseer since 2000, Rinaldi is a successful entrepreneurial industrialist and private equity investor whose career has focused on the energy, chemical and natural resource industries. He is chairman of Phoenix Capital, a boutique investment bank specializing in his areas of professional expertise and interest. He has been an investor and/or the principal executive in industries that include oil exploration and refining, phosphate mining and chemical production, coke gasification, nitrogen chemical production, zinc refining, and production of molybdenum, rhenium and vanadium derivatives.
A highlight of Rinaldi’s career was his role as founding CEO of Coffeyville Resources, which acquired a sophisticated oil refinery and agricultural chemical plant out of Farmland Industries’ bankruptcy in 2004. Under Rinaldi’s leadership, the business was returned to profitability and subsequently sold in a high-profile, exceptionally profitable private transaction. Rinaldi’s industrial background also includes positions with companies such as Exxon, Phibro, Tosco, Conserve, Seminole and Mulberry Corporation.
In addition to serving on the Board of Overseers, Rinaldi has long been a dedicated and generous friend of his alma mater. He holds a bachelor’s and a master's degree in chemical engineering from, NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering. He is a founding director of the NJIT Alumni Association and has endowed the Louis and Marie Carmella Rinaldi Scholarship in honor of his parents.
“I enjoyed and benefitted immensely from my undergraduate experience at NJIT, so it has been a great pleasure for me to serve on the Board of Overseers as that has given me a voice in an effective forum dedicated to making the university as strong and as relevant to the times as it can be,” Rinaldi says. “NJIT's Board of Overseers has enjoyed a long history of strong and effective leadership typified by the nearly decade-long, highly-engaged and imaginative chairmanship of my predecessor, Emil Herkert. My biggest challenge in taking over the gavel, supported by Executive Vice Chair Mike Wall, will be to build on the strong Overseer foundation that now exists. There is an incredible amount of talent and experience embodied in our individual Board members. Our first priority will be to find new ways to further engage that talent pool for the continued advancement of the university.”
Chairman Emeritus Herkert was honored at the December 9, 2010 meeting of the Board with a proclamation citing his three decades of service as an overseer and contributions as board chair. The proclamation was presented by fellow Overseer Charles R. Dees, Jr., president and chief operating officer of the Foundation at NJIT and vice president for university advancement.
A distinguished civil engineer who graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Herkert retired as chairman of the Killam Group and Hatch Mott MacDonald Infrastructure and Environment. In retirement, he has devoted even more time to NJIT. As stated in the proclamation read at the December meeting, he notably “initiated the prestigious NJIT Board of Overseers Excellence in Research Prize and Medal to celebrate and elevate the image of research on the NJIT campus and in the broader community.”
Herkert, who helped establish the NJIT chapter of Engineers Without Borders, says “I have always enjoyed working with the students who will be tomorrow’s engineers. My association with the board has made this possible.”
He also spoke about the meaning of service as an Overseer at the 2008 ceremony awarding the first Excellence in Research Prize and Medal to NJIT Distinguished Professor Philip R. Goode. “Before I joined the Board, I knew that NJIT educated the highest-caliber professionals in engineering and other scientific and technological disciplines. As an Overseer, however, I have learned more about an institution that has enabled talented young men and women to achieve great personal success for over a century. I have come to appreciate the scope and significance of NJIT’s engagement in leading-edge research on the frontiers of knowledge.”
The creative fundraising strategies promoted by NJIT’s Overseers include Celebration, proposed more than 16 years ago. To date, this annual gala has raised over $3.8 million for endowed scholarships. In November 2010, this involvement was quite personal for newly-elected Executive Vice Chairman Wall, who was at the podium as master of ceremonies.
Wall, executive director of the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation, says that joining the Board of Overseers has given him unique insights into the university and its dedicated staff and talented students. “Every time I’m on campus I’m impressed by their projects, ideas, commitments and results. Via the board I’ve made many new contacts and friends. These relationships have broadened my horizons, and I hope to do the same for the university.”